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Tag Archive | "Victoria Moseley"

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Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Posted on 22 November 2011 by Edward Franklin


Some critics recently accused Sean Holmes’ Lyric Hammersmith production of Saved of being a touch reverential; of deferring to the text rather than interrogating it. It is an accusation that one would be joyfully hard-pressed to apply to his and Filter Theatre’s take on the Dream; from the addition of a 50s doo-wop number courtesy of the London Snorkelling Team, to the woods’ incarnation as a mass of microphone wires with a pop-up tent plonked in the middle, Holmes bravely throws out the bathwater and leaves a kicking, screaming newborn production that demands – and deserves – attention.

Crucially, the layers of reinvention never obfuscate or muddy the work; Jonathan Broadbent’s rip-roaring performance as Oberon a la superhero, complete with blue spandex and cape, is a perfectly reasonable visual indicator of his position as king of the fairies. Add in the tantrum-throwing single-mindedness of a toddler and a nerdy voyeurism as he delights over Hermia and Helena’s catty exchanges, and the result is a powerful deconstruction of the character’s insecurities and immaturities, with a heady dose of laughter thrown in for good measure. Similarly, the decision to have Ed Gaughan open the piece as himself with a stand-up routine injected with local gags before slipping into the role of Peter Quince allows for the blurring of fantasy and reality which characterises Shakespeare’s play to be made explicit and appropriate for the condensed running time – such quirks run throughout, and are received warmly – hysterically – by the audience.

The sheer, unadulterated joy of the production is in its recognition of the danger and tedium of churning out a Dream that differs only slightly from ones audiences will have seen before. RSC directors must come up against this problem when having to honour the text whilst producing a version that will not merely be dismissed against Peter Brook’s legendary 1970 revival. Here, Filter’s freedom to play, explore and innovate is crucial. Fine delivery from Victoria Moseley, Rebecca Scroggs, Rhys Rusbatch and Simon Manyonda as the four young lovers is made even more enjoyable by the same actors’ ability to descend into a no-holds-barred food fight. In understanding the play and its characters, Filter consistently finds opportunities to illuminate the text whilst also gently ribbing it; taking Shakespeare back to its Elizabethan roots as entertainment.

In fact, when teachers, schoolchildren, critics and even other writers (Voltaire and Tolstoy have been among them) proclaim the Bard to be irrelevant, dull even, this production establishes that the answer is decidedly not to translate Romeo & Juliet into text-speak or set Hamlet in high school. It is to approach the act of theatre-making as Filter and Holmes have: with verve, confidence and energy, creating work which maintains a crystalline connection to its four hundred year-old inspiration, whilst fascinating as a piece of twenty-first century performance in its own right.

Filter Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays Bristol’s Tobacco Factory until 26 November before continuing on tour, and at London’s Lyric Hammersmith early next year. For more information and tickets, see the Tobacco Factory’s website.

 

 

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Review: Water

Posted on 11 February 2011 by Jake Orr

Water as a substance is hard to grasp. As a liquid you can store it in containers, but to physically try to hold it within your hands is problematic. The water begins to trickle between the gaps in your fingers, and even the smallest of droplets will eventually fall to the ground. Water by Filter Theatre is much like the inability to hold onto something you ultimately want – and in each of the stories portrayed, water as a liquid is the returning metaphor.

Water has been classed as ‘climate change’ theatre, which seems to be a common theme for practitioners to be exploring at the moment. Yet for Filter, the message of climate change is not really where the heart of this performance lies. Instead, the characters which Water is framed by become the central device.

There is Peter Johnson, a professor of marine biology, whose political views on climate change and the world at large leave him balancing between an academic job in Vancouver and flying back to England. After Johnson’s death, his two sons (Oliver Dimsdale and Ferdy Roberts) are left to forge a relationship as half-brothers, dividing the wealth and scattering Johnson’s remains into the sea that he so cared about. In a different story we see Claudia Ford (Victoria Moseley) attempting to join world diplomats in an agreed environmental pact. Ford’s fiery relationship with a deep-sea diver, coupled with her demanding job leave her floating just above the water of sanity.

Whilst I would have liked a more punchier climate change message (and I was half expecting to receive one), there is some joy in not receiving one directly but instead allowing a sense of osmosis of the characters’ situations and dilemmas to feed into the conscious mind. Filter’s technological workings leave Water as much a treat for the ears as it is for the eyes. Tim Phillips, as musician and composer for the piece, creates a truly breathtaking audio atmosphere throughout. Using microphones, looping pedals, and an array of electronic sounds sampled live on stage, Phillips creates a sensational backdrop of music, sound effects and allows for the action to be easily placed and enjoyed.

David Farr’s direction of the piece sees a fast pace, and constantly evolving settings, atmospheres and reinvention of the stage. Technology is placed at the heart of the piece, allowing video conversations, telephone calls, and projected videos/images to be integrated into the performance fluidly and adventurously. Dimsdale, Roberts and Moseley effortlessly slide between characters and situations. Like the technology used, the characters are fluid around the Tricycle’s small stage.

As a piece of theatre, Water is enchanting, and a joy visually and aurally. There are some niggling faults with the show – a sense that the characters interplay with each other is a dramatic device, which doesn’t always work for me. I would have liked to have seen the bigger picture of climate change introduced more, instead of an osmosis affect. Ultimately I felt as if I had seen the production before, and felt comfortable watching it, instead of truly engaging with the technology and presentation of the piece. For me, Filter needs to just add a slight edge of dramatic tension to really engage its audience. However, the parting image of a sea projected onto a screen with balloon fishes floating in the background was truly beautiful and left my eyes wide open.

Water is playing at the Tricycle Theatre until 5 March. Tickets can be brought through the website here.

Jake Orr

Jake Orr

Jake is the Artistic Director and Founder of A Younger Theatre. He is a freelance writer and blogger, a theatre marketer and a digital producer. He is also Co-Curator of Dialogue.

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